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NE Tenn., SW Va. region's COVID new case rate continues dropping
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NE Tenn., SW Va. region's COVID new case rate continues dropping

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The region’s rate of new COVID-19 cases continued a recent slowdown this week, including in Northeast Tennessee counties where the virus has been more prevalent.

Ten Northeast Tennessee counties reported fewer than 200 new cases during the past week, compared to nearly 300 new cases the week prior and more than 400 the week before that, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.

COVID May cases

Sullivan County, which has been the region’s hot spot, reported 72 new cases this past week, compared to 113 the prior week. Hawkins County reported 49 new cases — compared to 59 the week before — but four other counties saw single-digit increases. Unicoi and Hamblen counties reported no new cases during the past seven days.

Sullivan’s 10 case-per-day rate for the past week is nearly half its most recent 14-day average of 18.4 new cases daily, reported by the state health department. Sullivan has about 200 active cases.

Sullivan had 552 new cases during the first four weeks of May compared to 1,162 in April. Washington County, Tennessee, had 310 new cases this month compared to 938 in April. Hawkins County has shown the least decline, with 301 new cases for the month of May compared to 399 in April.

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Sullivan County, which also consistently sported the region’s highest seven-day COVID testing positivity rate, was at 2%, Hawkins County saw its seven day percentage fall to 2.5% and Washington County was 3.3%. Tennessee’s seven-day positivity average was 3.2%.

The 10 counties and two cities of far Southwest Virginia reported less than 100 new cases were diagnosed from May 22-28, compared to over 200 cases each of the previous two weeks, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

Washington and Tazewell counties reported the most new Southwest Virginia cases over the past week with 22 and 17, respectively, while Russell and Smyth counties reported no new cases during the past seven days. The city of Bristol reported 13 new cases during the past week.

These totals reflect major declines compared to previous weeks and represent just 10% of the nearly 900 new cases diagnosed during the first four weeks of May. Southwest Virginia reported 1,681 new cases during April.

Five Southwest localities reported 100 or more new cases for the month of May. Washington County had 151, compared to 336 in April; Smyth County diagnosed 110 new cases in May compared to 223 in April and the city of Bristol had 100 new cases in May compared to 177 in April. Wise County had 122 May cases, compared to 127 in April. Only Dickenson County reported more cases in May than April, 29 compared to 15.

On Friday, Southwest Virginia’s three health districts all reported seven-day average testing positivity rates above the Virginia statewide average of 2.6%, but all were within the 5% or less goal that health officials say is needed to curb the spread of the virus. Mount Rogers was at 5% on Friday, LENOWISCO was 4.6% and Cumberland Plateau at 3.7%, according to the state health department.

Ballad Health this week treated 69 COVID inpatients with 13 in intensive care units and nine on ventilators — the lowest totals since mid-March. There were 14 COVID-related deaths during the past week.

dmcgee@bristolnews.com | 276-645-2532 | Twitter: @DMcGeeBHC 

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